Photos and Review By: Josh Claros
In search for a new music and arts festival experience, I found myself at Lightning in a Bottle (LIB) this year. While other festivals have been working on increasing attendance and booking bigger acts, LIB has been working on delivering a bigger overall experience.
Lightning In A Bottle is produced by the Do LaB, an LA based company specializing in creating interactive artistic environments that exhibit and celebrate an ethos of human connection, art as transformative experience, and environmental sustainability. The Do LaB touch is visible at LIB, and the attention to detail that went into everything is just incredible- stage design, festival layout, art selection and placement all come together perfectly to create an inspiring dream world for music and art lovers to play in. LIB describes itself as a transformational festival that goes beyond just art and music, adding self-improvement/wellness activities and sustainability into the mix. Now in its 11th year, the festival features world class musicians in its lineup as well as camping, arts, performance, yoga and other activities to expand your mind.
The festival took place during Memorial Day weekend at Lake San Antonio Recreation Area in Bradley, California. The landscape is truly amazing: hills covered with golden wheatgrass, gnarled green oaks scattered throughout, green grass in the distant valley with cows happily grazing on it. At night the colored lights being projected by the stages, people’s outfits and the art created a dreamscape that made for a totally different experience than the daytime. Everything seemed more alive and vibrant – including the people, who by night had fully revitalized.
All festival-goers who attend can also access the campgrounds in and around the festival. Camping is an essential part of the LIB experience, adding a sense of community amongst festival goers. I made the fortunate mistake of camping right in front of a mini-stage that blasted minimal techno until the morning hours, leaving no choice but to take part.
The crowd was diverse – a good mix of older hippies, Burning Man Burners, raver PLUR kids, professionals wanting a break from routine, and just music and art lovers of all ages in general.
The party kept going until dawn broke, with the festival-goers completely immersed in the LIB experience. A lot of people seemed to be dressed for the occasion as well, letting their creativity show through fashion. Kudos to LIB for teaching about cultural appropriation on their web site.
Aside from the art and music, LIB has stages dedicated to thought provoking ideas and conversation. There were panels about food, theories, inspiration, spirituality, and more. Attendees could drop into the Temple Stage from time to time and listen in on thoughts being put out by a selection of experts, educators and thinkers, including panels as varied as one about Flat Earth. I had to remind myself to be more open minded to new thoughts and ideas, and ultimately ended up attending the panel. Though not convinced by their arguments, I did walk away with a positive message of questioning truth and facts. The cool and collected Prince EA was also there doing his own panel dropping knowledge about being mindful, doing what you love and being of service to others.
All the musical performances I caught at LIB were great. Alina Baraz performed a fantastic cover of Drake’s Controlla during her set. Grimes vibrant and animated set was a anime pop/rock concert, colorful and exciting – she has so much energy and personality onstage. Saturday night, Jamie XX mixed tunes unfazed by a high naked dude who hopped on stage to try and sabotage his set, finishing it off with Good Times and Loud Places.
Chet Faker’s soulful electronic sound set the perfect mood to end Sunday night. He moved around on stage like a tortured madman, delivering his lyrics with energy and passion.
My favorite set of the weekend though was Moderat, who played right before Chet. Moderat blends Modeselektor’s and Apparat’s styles to create a unique ambient electronic/minimal techno sound that really shines in a live setting. Lesser known acts like Hundred Waters, Lafa Taylor, Raury, Imagined Herbal Flows, Ibeyi played on different stages.
Lightning In A Bottle is the most unique festival I’ve experienced thus far. One of my favorite moments was sitting by the hillside at Meditation Lookout with others to watch the sunset. As the sun finally set everyone cheered and howled – it was a truly special shared moment full of gratitude, happiness, and celebration of being alive, which sums up what LIB is all about.